What is interesting is which specific demographics most strongly support torture and the Patriot Act. It’s most particularly clear with the latter. Conservative demographic groups (Enterprisers, Social Conservatives, & Pro-Govt Conservatives) have the strongest support for the Patriot Act. That isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is which specific conservative demographic groups have majority support (Enterprisers & Social Conservatives) and which don’t (Pro-Govt Conservatives).
Let me explain.
Enterprisers are essentially neo-cons, neo-liberals, and (neo-) libertarians which demographically translates as mostly rich white males who have partisan loyalty to the GOP and who are the most loyal viewers of Fox News. Social Conservatives are essentially the fundamentalists and rightwingers in general which demographically translates as older whites who represent the other big chunk of Republican voters. Both groups are known to criticize the government for different reasons and yet both love the idea of a strong military (the military, rather than democracy, being the symbol of their ideal government). They may use pro-constitutional rhetoric in their criticizing the government, but ultimately they don’t take the constitution all that seriously when it comes to protecting human rights and freedom for all.
It’s telling that Pro-Govt Conservatives are the one conservative demographic group that doesn’t have majority support for the Patriot Act. That is a very telling detail. To be a conservative who actually believes in the government serving a positive function means to be a conservative who also genuinely believes in strictly adhering to the constitution and to the moral vision upon which this country was founded. This is the group that I consider as being ‘real’ conservatives in that they are more moderate and traditional (i.e., they believe in conserving social institutions such as government) compared to the radicalized element within the GOP. But these down-to-earth conservatives don’t get as much attention as they’re too reasonable. Also, despite being the most traditional of conservatives, they aren’t the base of the Republican Party. In fact, they are almost evenly split between Republicans and Independents (which is the same role the Liberal demographic group plays in the Democratic Party).
The fact that traditional conservatives (traditional in the larger historical sense) are the least supportive of the Republican Party says a lot about what has become of the party that supposedly represents ‘conservatives’. It also explains a lot about why traditional conservatism is ignored in America. The GOP doesn’t care about traditional conservatives as much because it isn’t their base. These conservatives are the poor and working class people. Unlike the wealthy Enterprisers, they don’t have lots of money to donate to political campaigns. And, unlike the upper middle class Tea Party supporters, they don’t make for entertaining media coverage. These people are too busy just trying to get by and going by the media you would hardly know they existed.
Related to this, I was comparing conservatives between the parties. It might surprise some people to see how many conservatives there are in the Democratic Party. In particular, poor minorities living in the South are extremely conservative and yet loyal Democrats. Rightwingers like to argue that only liberal Democrats want big government for social issues, but government being involved with social issues has always been a traditional conservative position. Why are liberal Democrats defending the traditionally conservative role of the government as an institution upholding social order and the public good? Maybe because it’s in the nature of liberals in general to defend the powerless when attacked by the powerful.
True conservatism is a philosophy committed to conserving– conserving families, communities and nation in the face of change. Committed to preserving fundamental values, such as accountability, civic duty and the rule of law. And committed to a strong government to realize these ends. What passes for conservatism in America today bears only a passing resemblance to this true conservatism. It worships at the twin altars of free enterprise and weak government–two decidedly unconservative notions.
Real conservatism values security and stability over the unfettered free market. In Germany, for example, it was the conservative Otto von Bismark–not socialists–who developed social insurance and built the world’s first welfare state. Today conservatives throughout the world–but not here–endorse government-provided national health care, because they recognize public needs are not always met by the private sector. And they see a role for government in encouraging national economic development.
A true conservative movement would not ignore the decay of our great cities, or see the disorder of the Los Angeles riots only as a political opportunity. Nor would they pay homage to “free trade” while the nation’s manufacturing base withered. Nor would a conservative President veto pro-family legislation requiring companies to provide leave to new mothers, in deference to business prerogatives.
Traditional conservatives champion community and nation over the individual. They esteem public service, and promote civic obligation. They reject the “invisible hand” argument, that everyone’s pursuit of individual self-interest will magically yield the best public outcome, believing instead in deliberately cultivating virtue. Authentic conservatives do not assail 55 m.p.h. speed limits and seat-belt laws as encroaching totalitarianism.
Finally, a genuine conservatism values the future over the present. It is a movement of elites to be sure, but of elites who feel that their privilege entails special obligations. The old word for this was “stewardship”–the obligation to care for the nation’s human and natural resources, and to look out for future generations’ interests.
Such conservatives would not open up public lands for private commercial exploitation, or undermine environmental regulations for short-term economic growth. They would not cut funding for childrens’ vaccinations, knowing that the cost of treating illness is far greater. And a conservative political party would never preside over a quadrupling of the national debt.
In America, then, what we call conservatism is really classical liberalism: a love of the market, and hatred of government. Adam Smith, after all, was a liberal, not a conservative. As the economist Gunnar Myrdal once noted: “America is conservative . . . but the principles conserved are liberal.”
American conservatives have often celebrated the country’s historically “exceptional” character: the acceptance of capitalism and the absence of any significant socialist movement. Curiously, though, they often miss their half of the story: the absence of a real Tory conservatism. What Louis Hartz called America’s “liberal consensus” excluded both of the great communitarian traditions–ain’t nobody here but us liberals.
True conservatism’s weakness as a political tradition in America is thus an old story. When values confront the market here, the market usually wins. In recent years, though, conservative social values seem to have been eclipsed. Many of today’s conservatives are really libertarians–proponents of a radical individualism that has little in common with conservatism.
I was having a discussion (in the comments of an Amazon.com book review) with someone who seems fairly conservative but who says they aren’t Republican. This person’s views of liberals, however, seem traditionally conservative and this person didn’t make any statements that would contradict mainstream Republican views. The review in question was of a book by Cleon Skousen who has been popularized by Glenn Beck. So, it’s likely this person is either a Beckhead or a Tea Party protester… or maybe they just heard of Skousen through the conservative grapevine.
Skousen is representative of the far right in his association with the John Birch Society. The John Birch Society was so far right that the staunch conservative Buckley kicked them out of the conservative movement. Skousen was mostly a forgotten name until the recent rise of the Tea Party (or rather its recent promotion by Fox News).
My understanding is that the Tea Party was originally inspired by Ron Paul’s libertarian movement.
The Republicans saw Ron Paul as competition because he is closer to traditional conservatism than they are. Beck helped undermine Ron Paul’s movement, but later apologized after Beck had become the de facto leader of the Tea Party. Beck is a dissatisfied Republican who has turned to conservative thinkers such as Skousen who have been kept outside the Republican fold for decades, and apparently now that Buckley is gone those outside the fold are trying to get back in again. There is a weird struggle going on between the Republicans and the Tea Partiers, but unfortunately no matter which side wins the libertarians will be the losers. I saw a poll that showed Republicans considered libertarians only slightly less negatively than liberals.
I can see some attraction to libertarians such as Ron Paul and I sympathize some of the Tea Party’s complaints (even if not the ideological targets of their complaints). Even so, I just can’t stand Glenn Beck. I partly just don’t like Beck’s lack of intellectual depth (along with his fear-mongering and race-baiting), but more annoying is that Beck works for Fox News. Fox News is headed by Roger Ailes who has for decades been one of the major players in the Republican party (much credit can be given to him for the success of movement conservatism). I think Fox News’ interest in the Tea Party is a Republican ploy to take over this movement of dissent… which would mean the genuine complaints would get lost in talking points of Republican campaigning.
Despite the loony wingnuts, my sense is that there probably are quite a few reasonable and maybe even moderate people within the Tea Party movement. A while back, I posted a video (several videos in fact along with my own commentary) of someone who seemed reasonable and was complaining about what happened to the Tea Party once it was popularized (and practically taken over) by Fox News. Here is the video in question:
According to a Pew poll, the demographic that is the most loyal Fox News audience are rich white men… which also happens to be the demographic of those who run Fox News (how convenient). So, I don’t think Fox News actually has the average Tea Party protester’s best interests in mind nor do I think Fox News is genuinely promoting the complaints that drew many people to the Tea Party movement.
I may be a liberal, but I have libertarian leanings and I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. During Bush’s administration, the liberals and libertarians joined together to protest the Iraq war. What did Fox News do? It (meaning the Fox News pundits such as Beck) defended the administration, ridiculed the protesters, dismissed the 9/11 families, and categorized Truthers as loony conspiracy theorists. Ron Paul was against the Iraq war which is a major reason he attracted the ire of Republicans and Fox News. The Peace Protest movement was even larger than the present Tea Party movement. Republicans and Fox News thought protesters were the scum of the earth, but when a Democratic president was elected based on a populist message of hope by a majority of Americans all of a sudden Fox News overtly started advertising for and generally promoting the Tea Party protests. Fox News was fine with the Patriot Act and only now do they worry about the government having too much power? Pardon me if I think this is a bit disingenuous.
So, Beck has been doing his best to popularize conspiracy theories and make them respectable once again for the conservative movement. The problem is that, in becoming dissatisfied with the GOP, Beck just went even further right. I prefer my conspiracy theorists to be equally critical of both the left and the right. Forget Beck. Give me Alex Jones. Compared to Beck, Alex Jones’ theories seem quite reasonable to me. Alex Jones truly stands outside of the mainstream and doesn’t pull any punches. It’s easy to see the biases of Alex Jones, but Beck is different as he works within mainstream media. Considering that Beck paid by the rightwing spin machine (otherwise known as Fox News), I can’t even know to what extent he is being honest or, even if he does genuinely try to be honest, to what extent he is being manipulated by his corporate handlers. Fox News is run by News Corp which is one of the wealthiest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world. If there is a worldwide conspiracy, I’m sure News Corp is one of powers behind it.
Better than Alex Jones even, give me Robert Anton Wilson or Art Bell. Robert Anton Wilson made conspiracy theories truly entertaining. Art Bell, of course, is one of the greatest libertarian talk show hosts to ever be on air and he is a true libertarian… a “live and let live” kind of guy with a strong dose of openminded curiosity. Art Bell said Fox News sucks for its treatment of Ron Paul.
I started listening to Art Bell back in the 1990s. I wasn’t even all that interested in politics at that time. I suppose I’ve always been fairly liberal in my predisposition, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve researched politics enough to have any clear opinions. I don’t remember exactly when I started getting more interested in politics. I remember attending some political meetings at the University, but other than sating my curiosity I didn’t care too much about any of it. I saw OutFoxed when it came out and that was my first awareness of blatant media bias and political spin.
The one and only time I voted for a president was for Nader in 2000. The reason I voted for Nader was because I heard him speak. It was the only time in my life when felt convinced that a politician genuinely believed in what he was doing. Nader seemed like a truly moral person. My voting for him wasn’t an ideological decision but was instead based on an assessment of his character. For whatever reason, not even Obama inspired me as much. Obama made inspiring speeches, but Nader inspired me simply for what I sensed about who he was. I have no desire to vote for the lesser of two evils and I refuse to play the rigged two-party game… not that I dislike Obama (I actually do like him as a person to some extent) and I can think of many people who would make much worse presidents (ahem, Palin).
The only political movement I ever was involved with was the Peace protests. At the University of Iowa, students and locals had set up a Peace Camp and they were there for quite a while. I hung out at the camp almost every day even when it was cold. It was the first time I felt like I was a part of something that mattered. Bush, of course, was the worst kind of politician. I’m drawn to pacifist idealism, but more importantly it seemed obvious to me how the Bush administration was lying. I still don’t understand why Bush’s lies weren’t questioned much at the time even by supposedly liberally-biased mainstream media. Even today, many conservatives still believe some of Bush’s lies that have been disproven for years. It truly bewilders me. And the Patriot Act… my God! The Patriot Act almost made me lose all hope.
It was funny that at the time when everyone was blaming Nader voters for Bush’s election. I knew Bush was bad news, but I had a theory about how good might come out of it. Even before Bush was voted into office, I knew he would be one of the worse presidents and I thought that it likely could lead to inspiring liberals to put forth a truly progressive presidential candidate later on. It turns out that I was more or less correct in that Obama’s progressive message indeed did get popular support after the horrors of the Bush regime. However, I didn’t predict how the horrors of Bush would linger on even after he was gone (Patriot Act, Guantanamo, etc). I didn’t believe in Obama’s hope hype, but I did want to believe that change was actually possible. I’m open to the hypothetical scenario that Obama might live up to his own progressive speechmaking, but going by his record so far it doesn’t appear all that likely. This is one time when I wish my cynicism would prove wrong.
These days, I’m not involved in politics at all other than writing about it. Obama and Bush, Republican and Democrat… it all seems the same to me or not all that different anyways. I just think of myself as a curious observer. I still listen to Art Bell’s show but now it’s hosted by someone else. Over the years, I have at times noted the wide spectrum of the audience of Coast to Coast AM. The callers and guests consist of liberals, new age gurus, pro-drug activists, Wiccan priestesses, Satan worshippers, Catholic preists, libertarians, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, cranks of various sorts, and even time travellers from the future. The slant of the show, since Art Bell started it, has always seemed socially liberal and politically libertarian. Art Bell himself used to be married to a Wiccan and he was the prototypical independent-minded libertarian.
I’ve recently been thinking about Coast to Coast AM in terms of the Tea Party. Art Bell was a supporter of Ron Paul. I suspect that libertarians and Tea Partiers probably represent a significant portion of Art Bell’s fan base. I’m also a fan of Art Bell, but I’m always wary of conservative libertarians adoration of Ayn Rand and I’m even more wary of the Beckhead Tea Baggers. On the other hand, I don’t think of myself as a Democrat. Many Democrats hate Nader voters like me as much as Republicans once hated Ron Paul supporters. I feel like I’m in a weird niche. The closest I come to finding a view that I identify with might be Noam Chomsky, but I recently met a Chomsky fan who was a rabid atheist and I don’t much like rabid atheists.
Part of me wishes I could be a libertarian, but in the US the libertarian movement has been taken over by pro-capitalists and the religious right. Of the conservative libertarians, I’d prefer the pro-capitalists because at least some of them are socially liberal. I read Ayn Rand in college. I liked her fiction somewhat, but then I read her nonfiction and it really turned me off. I just don’t understand the proseletyzing of free market idealism. As I see it, a free market has never existed and probably never will. Yeah, it looks good in theory… many things look good in theory.
Maybe I should just forget about all of the various movements and just think of myself as an independent.
I think I was happier when Republicans were in power. Republicans are just blatantly evil in how they abused power. Democrats in some ways just seem more sneaky. Plus, with Democrats in power, the libertarian movement has become even more conservative because of all the people no longer wanting to identify with the failed and failing GOP.
It pisses me off. I’ve been a critic of mainstream politics for much of my adult life. I’ve always been attracted to conspiracy theories about secret societies, alphabet soup agencies, the military-industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, and the One World Government. I can’t say I necessarily believe in any given conspiracy theory, but the general attitude appeals to me. I can’t stand that the likes of Beck has become the mainstream representative of conspiracy theories. Beck may be mainstream, but he is more whacko than some of the cranks that I’ve heard Art Bell inteview. I’m sure Beck means well and all. It’s just that he seems like a dupe. Maybe I’m being overly critical. Am I wrong to mistrust the change of heart of a supporter of Bush and the Patriotic Act? Beck says he leans towards libertarianism, but I’ve never heard him criticize imprisoning American citizens as enemy combatants or criticize the torture of suspects that may or may not be terrorists. If that is leaning towards libertarianism, I’m sure glad Beck isn’t leaning away from libertarianism. How can Beck be considered the voice of populist dissent, the defender of constitutional rights?
Okay… there was a point to all of this. My thinking was partly incited by the discussion I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The person (who I shall call “he” from now on) I was debating seems like a typical conservative in seeing liberal bias everywhere. He mentioned the documentary Indoctrinate U which is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.
The person on Amazon.com seems reasonably intelligent and capable of critical thinking to some extent, but his views of liberals is rather simplistic… maybe he hadn’t been exposed to many liberals besides encounters with strangers on the internet and portrayals of “libruls” on Fox News. I assume that this documentary represents his own views as he seemed to be using it to support his arguments. This is the type of conservative that befuddles me. He says he isn’t a Republican even while espousing very conservative views. He seems somewhat moderate in his attitude all the while saying he wants to read Skousen who represents extreme conservative bias. All in all, he seems be in the general vicinity of the audience of Fox News (which apparently exists in an alternative dimension from the one I happen to occupy).
I’m fine with criticisms and disagreement. I’m not one to denounce Beck or the Tea Partiers for feeling that the government doesn’t represent them. I agree with their general sentiments. I agree that there is a bias in the media and in education and in the mainstream in general, but what is up with seeing a conspiracy everywhere which is led by some kind of liberal elite (be they Socialists, Communists, Marxists, or Nazis… or, even worse, maybe all of them combined).
I did end up watching the entire documentary. Basically, it’s a conservative version of a Michael Moore production but not quite as entertaining. Many examples are presented with little context. In response to one of the reviews, the maker of the documentary admitted to being biased and thought it unfair for someone to criticize his bias.
Why is it so hard for people to look at the real sources of oppression and propaganda? What is the point of blaming one party or another, one president or another, one mainstream news source or another? One group wants to blame big government and the other group wants to blame big business, but a little bit of research shows that there isn’t any great distinction between the two. The family and financial connections, the revolving door, the inherited wealth and social position… power is power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Conservatives buy guns in fear that the liberal elite are going to destroy democracy or something, but who are they going to point the gun at? When the oppressive forces come (assuming they aren’t already here and haven’t been here for a long time), they’ll come for conservatives and liberals alike. Anyways, I doubt even the gun-toting paranoids will see them coming because the new form of political oppression probably won’t come by overt force.
There is no liberal propaganda scheme to brainwash the children of conservatives. The professors and news reporters really aren’t all that liberal (compared to true socialists and progressives) and anyways most of them are just as deceived (or more so) than the rest of us. The conspiracy (whatever it may be) is systemic to our entire society. This is why someone like Derrick Jensen probably is closer to grasping the actual conspiracy than any outright conspiracy theorist.
Why are conservatives so afraid of the government now with Obama in Washington? Obama hasn’t even come close to passing anything as scary as the Patriot Act. Obama is no more a Communist than any other president. I just don’t get all of this paranoid fear-mongering. Yes, there are real things to be afraid of, but I don’t see much point to all of this blind rage and righteousness, all of this ideological warring. Many, many people have been warning about conspiracies for decades… yet we’re all still here and the political game continues. What is behind this sudden sense of urgency? Is it just the economic downturn that gets conservatives all riled up? Mess with their jobs, their money, their houses… and there will be a revolution.
Al Franken rules! I think politics would be better (or at least more entertaining) if there were more comedian politicians. (BTW I’ve always found it fascinating that all of the funniest comedians are liberals or else non-religious libertarians.)
(I’m voting Colbert for 2012. Colbert Nation rise up and let your voices be heard!)
This is interesting. Al Franken can get into politics, but it’s hard to imagine rightwing pundits (e.g., Beck, Coulter, Limbaugh, etc.) ever getting into politics. Even Palin sunk McCain’s attempt at presidency. Extreme rightwingers may be loud enough to obstruct politics, but they’re too far from the mainstream to play a direct part in politics.
Al Franken versus the rightwing (in the second video, Franken calls O’Reilly a liar to his face and backs it up with facts… Ouch!).
Fox News is a joke and everyone knows it. Let’s quit pretending otherwise.
In the following videos, Al Franken comes off as both smart and a good speaker. I like that he takes the time to talk to average people.
He says that: more than half (62% to be precise) of US citizens who go bankrupt do so because of the health care crisis (How many in Switzerland? Zero! How many in France? Zero! How many in Germany? Zero!); and around 80% of these bankrupted Americans have (or had) health insurance.
If you think because you are working or middle class that you’re safe and protected, you are fooling yourself. The rich Republicans who own the insurance companies don’t give a shit about you and they’ll laugh all the way to the bank as you and your family end up on the street (take the rightwing populist check to the bank you’ll quickly find out it bounces).
Rightwing populism is empty rhetoric, but what about the rightwing support for the Constitution?
The Patriot Act was used in the vast majority cases for drug rather than terrorist cases. This proves that the endless War on Drugs has become inseparable from the endless War on Terrorism. One endless war constantly changing names. Democracy has officially been taken over by the Military-Industrial Complex.
Combined with the fact that all Republican administrations starting with Reagan have ended with massive deficits (and both Bush administrations ended with net job losses), tell me again what the Republicans stand for?
As an added bonus, here is Bill O’Reilly showing himself for the hypocritical douchebag that he is.